Authors C L Raven #interview @clraven

Please give a creepy welcome to C L Raven

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Tell us a bit about yourself

We’re identical twins from Cardiff, Wales and we write horror novels and short stories. We’ve just started writing comics and film scripts and are enjoying the change. Most of our time is spent looking after our animal army, who are all rescue or rehomed pets. There is currently 15 of them. In our spare time, we love doing polefit and are training to become instructors. We also do gymnastics, but the less we say about that, the better. We somehow ended up with lead roles in our friend’s horror film, School Hall Slaughter, so we’ve been rehearsing stunts for that. We’re hoping to start directing our own short horror film after summer. We love travelling and find the creepiest places to visit. We’ve just returned from a book signing in Sweden.

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Have you always wanted to become authors?

Originally, we were obsessed with horses and wanted to be either professional showjumpers, or riding instructors. But not being able to afford a horse was quite an obstacle. We started writing novels when we were 12, so as we became teenagers, we decided we wanted to become authors and nothing else. By then, our depression had forced us to give up horse riding so we needed a new career plan! Our teachers were less than happy, and we often got detention for not doing our homework – we were too busy writing!

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What was your inspiration for your current book/series?

Our most recent release, Empty Graves, is about the body snatchers in Edinburgh in 1828. We love history, and learning about body snatchers Burke and Hare (they were really murderers, not body snatchers) made us interested in Edinburgh. We were fascinated that it’s two cities in one – Old Town and New Town. We fell in love with it before we visited. Now we go back every year and get inspired by each visit. We now have three historical books set in Edinburgh. The Malignant Dead is about the plague in 1645, and The Devil’s Servants is about the witch trials in 1649. They are a series, in a way, as they’re linked by minor characters, or descendants, and are all set in Edinburgh. Edinburgh itself inspired them, as all three are based on true events. We have plans for a fourth one, based on the legend of Sawney Bean and his cannibal family.

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What are you working on now?

We’re currently writing a new novel about a woman who gets possessed by a demon, but she likes the effect the demon has, so allows it to stay. Her demon is after an object that will give it ultimate power, but it’s not the only demon that wants it, so together, they exorcise other peoples’ demons to stop them from getting the object first. We’ve just finished writing a gothic novella about a cursed castle that drives people to insanity, and we’re editing a novel about a necromancer who helps the police by resurrecting murder victims to interview them. Our first comic is due to be published at the end of the year.

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Do you have any quirks while writing?

Does falling asleep at the laptop count? If not, then no. We usually have the company of a cat, Theo. He’s not ours, but every time his owner collects him, he returns after a few days. Before Theo arrived, our tortie, Mina, would sit on our laps. She also isn’t ours but has been living here for a year now. Before Mina arrived, our youngest cat, Ripley was our writing buddy. So we guess having a feline writing buddy is our quirk. The other cats. Storm and Phoenix have no interest in helping us.

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What are your hopes for the future?

To be successful, and to make a proper living from our writing, so people will stop telling us to get a ‘proper job’. Not sure they think teaching polefitness counts as a proper job either! Neil Gaiman is our inspiration and we’d like to switch between books, comics, and other projects with the same success that he has. We once tweeted him to tell him it was his fault his publisher turned our book down (they loved but it didn’t want another funny apocalypse book). Neil tweeted us back, apologising.

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Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?

Don’t expect overnight success. It’s incredible tough to get success in writing. You have to have the courage to keep submitting work, despite all the rejections. (We’re nearing 500 with our short stories/novels/articles). We often feel like giving up, particularly when our depression is bad, and at times we wish we could quit. But we can’t. You’ll always see writers posting about their success and it will feel like you’re the only one failing. You’re not. They’re only showing you the highlights. Nobody likes to look like a failure, so nobody posts about their rejections. We do, because we want people to know how hard it is. Plus only posting about your success is like a kick in the boobs to someone getting nothing but rejections. But you have to keep going. If you don’t put your work out there then it can’t be accepted. It’s terrifying, but it’s worth it. And if someone tells you to get a proper job, punch them in the teeth. Seriously. Punch them hard. Then hit them with a book. Those same people would be the first to complain if there were no books, no comics, no TV shows, no films. For those things to exist, you need writers. Also, things change so quickly. A couple of weeks ago, we did a signing in Sweden’s oldest book shop and were on the front page of two newspapers and a large spread in a third. People came up to us in random places, recognising us and came to the shop just to meet us. This week, we’ve had nothing but rejections from publishers! It’s a fickle world.

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Do you have anything to say to your readers?

Thank you so much for reading our work, and making what we do matter. It often feels like nobody cares, but then we’ll get a message from a reader, saying they loved one of our books, and it makes all the heartache worth it. So thank you. You’re the reason we keep fighting.

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